The Dutch Safety Board says its investigation showed that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a surface-to air Buk missile.
The flight crashed as a result of a warhead detonation to the left side of the aircraft cockpit.
Dutch Safety Board chairman Tjibbe Joustra, unveiling the board’s final report Tuesday evening, said the warhead was consistent with the Buk missile system.
“Flight MH17 crashed as a result of the detonation of a warhead outside the airplane against the left-hand side of the cockpit.
“This warhead fits the kind of missile that is installed in the Buk surface-to-air missile system,” he told a press conference at the Gilze-Rijen air base in southern Netherlands.
The July 17, 2014 crash killed all 298 on board.
Joustra said the missile had exploded less than a meter from the aircraft cockpit, breaking off the front of the plane. The Boeing 777 broke up in the air and crashed over a large area in eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists who had been fighting government troops there since April 2014.
He said a study of the missile’s trajectory showed that it was launched from eastern Ukraine.
All three cockpit crew were killed instantly due to thousands of metal shrapnel piercing the cockpit.
Family members of the victims were also told that all those onboard died almost instantly.
It was highly likely that passengers not killed by the missile were unconscious within moments.
The board said Kiev should have closed the airspace over eastern Ukraine due to the ongoing conflict with pro-Russian separatists.
“We have concluded as a precaution there was sufficient reason for the Ukrainian authorities to close the air space above the eastern part of their country,” said Joustra.
Dutch investigators had earlier unveiled a ghostly reconstruction of the forward section of the Boeing 777.
Some of the nose, cockpit and business class of the aircraft were rebuilt from fragments of the aircraft recovered from the crash scene and flown to Gilze-Rijen air base in southern Netherlands.
Prior to the unveiling of the report, arms maker Almaz-Antey had disagreed with the finding that the aircraft was shot down by a Buk missile warhead.
An AP report quoted Almaz-Antey as saying that it had conducted two experiments — in one of which a Buk missile was detonated near the nose of an airplane similar to a 777 — that contradict that conclusion.
The experimental aircraft’s remains showed a much different sub-munitions damage pattern than seen on the remnants of MH17, the company said in a statement.